Retail businesses are increasingly turning to online sales as a way to reach larger consumer audiences. Many retailers now make use of online platforms to reach consumers, fulfill orders, and increase profits. With digital technology changing how consumers make purchasing decisions, it’s time for retailers to adopt new business models.
Digital technology and the consumer
Technology has made it possible for a consumer to purchase whatever they want or need without ever leaving their homes. But more importantly, consumers now use digital technology to communicate with each other and the world.
They share opinions, choices, and recommendations. They talk to each other about customer services, preferred retailers, and eCommerce platforms. They create trends that change rapidly and constantly.
If a retail business wants to keep up with its customers, it can’t avoid adopting digital technology. Brick and mortar locations that rely solely on selling their inventory within a limited geographical area stand to incur losses. Meanwhile, retail businesses that opt for a hybrid model that incorporates both physical and digital sales are seeing gains and profits.
But that isn’t all. New technology isn’t just used for sales and communication but can be used to improve workflow processes as well. From data analytics to inventory management, emerging technology is disrupting how retail businesses have operated for decades. Here are the five key ways that digital tools and technology will change retail businesses in the future:
Enhancing Customer Experience
The opinions of customers have never been more important. Today, customers rely on each other, product reviews, and influencer endorsements to choose the products they want to buy. At every step of the process, customers have become used to automated systems that make online shopping easy and, to a large extent, personalized.
Payment gateways allow customers to make instant payments from anywhere in the world. Product recommendations regularly show people what they might like based on their previous purchasing decisions. In this environment, retail service isn’t enough to deliver customer experiences at par with digital technology.
Customers can even opt for curbside pickup options, self-checkout options, and more. There’s less need for customers to take time out of their schedule to visit retail locations. In an increasingly digitized world, focusing on creating an immersive and tailored digital customer experience can push sales overall.
Data analytics and predicting the future
Analysis and research are important ways businesses make informed decisions about future choices. The availability of Big Data, as well as digital tools, allows for easy and efficient analysis of data. This can help retailers make better forecasts and predictions.
If your retail business is unsure about pricing, then using machine learning to get Big Data analysis could give you answers on competitive pricing. Such analysis can show you what your customers want, understand new demographics you could target, and stay on top of industry trends.
Financial and cash flow management
Retail businesses can use a cash flow management system to monitor their income and expenses. Many cash flow management software also provides accounting and bookkeeping features. A retail business could save on hiring accountants and bookkeepers while simultaneously streamlining its cash flow processes.
Since some cash flow management software can be linked to your business bank account, you may not have to worry about making on-time loan repayments or tax payments. A higher-end cash flow management software, if assigned to the task and provided with the necessary variables, can handle those tasks for you. Since digital technology greatly reduces the possibility of human error, you’ll get accurate financial statements every time.
Inventory and shelf management
Internet of Things technology such as smart shelves or electronic shelf labels helps automate the inventory management process. Some companies are even making use of robots to manage manual tasks such as stocking shelves and fetching goods to the storefront.
Inventory management takes time, and with the use of digital tools, your employees can focus on servicing customers and other tasks.
Hybrid Shopping Models
Retail businesses that adopt hybrid shopping models, that is, combining online and retail shopping experiences can benefit the most. Not every customer wants to see retail businesses disappear. Reasons such as being immediately able to bring home products, seeing and feeling products before purchase, and even nostalgia are cited as positives for retail businesses.
However, the value that digital technology brings to customers can’t be denied either. By building a hybrid business strategy, where both sets of customers are catered to, can maximize profits. What retail businesses need to keep in mind here is that the level of customer experience available while shopping online should be replicated in offline shopping as well. This includes providing personalized service, efficient checkout, and quality customer service and engagement.
Retail businesses, as they adopt more digital technology, will find more time on their hands. As digital tools and software handle laborious tasks, retailers and their employees can utilize this time to develop strategies aimed at improving customer experience.
In this rapidly changing economic landscape, protecting your retail and digital assets can be key for long-term success. As a retail business owner, you can consider business insurance. Find financial coverage for the physical location of your shop, your digital assets, data, and more with the right combination of business insurance policies.
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